Apropos “Library 2.0 In Action” (Nov 24/06) and Simon F’s “Why is it that librarians are leagues ahead of lawyers in this sort of thing? Huh?”
With apologies to L. Carroll, because I’m inverting his question, we might as well ask: “why isn’t a raven like a writing desk?” The legal profession being, on the whole, what it is, the answers we’ll get will probably be even less useful, and nowhere near as humorous. (Those who’ve had the misfortune to have to read anything I’ve had published recently will probably have seen my tendency to quote from Carroll, so I’m merely being … consistent.)
I’ll leave it to those who have first hand knowledge to comment about what’s going on in the academies. Many practictioners, even from the older generations, aren’t quite as Luddite-like as one might expect from our hide-bound profession. Here’s the URL (it’s also typed in full below) and the abstract of an article by a few members of the U.S. academic branch of the profession who at least imply that U.S. practitioners are somewhere near librarians (professionally speaking, that is).
Richard K. Sherwin, Neal Feigenson, and Christina Spiesel, “Law in the Digital Age: How Visual Communication Technologies are Transforming the Practice, Theory, and Teaching of Law” (February 20, 2006). ExpressO Preprint Series. Working Paper 979.
ABSTRACT: Law today has entered the digital age. The way law is practiced – how truth and justice are represented and assessed – is increasingly dependent on what appears on electronic screens in courtrooms, law offices, government agencies, and elsewhere. Practicing lawyers know this and are rapidly adapting to the new era of digital visual rhetoric. Legal theory and education, however, have yet to catch up. This article is the first systematic effort to theorize law’s transformation by new visual and multimedia technologies and to set out the changes in legal pedagogy that are needed to prepare law students for practice in the new environment. The article explores the consequences for legal theory and practice of the shift from an objectivist to a constructivist approach to human knowledge, using an expanded, multidisciplinary understanding of rhetoric to analyze the elusiveness of evidentiary truth and the nature and ethics of persuasion in the digital era.
SUBJECT AREA: Dispute Resolution; Evidence; Jurisprudence; Law and Society; Law and Technology; Legal Profession
A quick glance beyond the abstract suggests it’s worth reading.
Simon has, in what was no doubt a moment of temporary weakness, allowed me to join as an occasional contributor. Anybody familiar with my scholarship resumé will know why. I’ll try to be a bit more consistent, here.